Philosophy at the Crossroads

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A good way to see the effect of Neo-Kantian settlement is in terms of the changing face of Socrates, for whom no philosopher nowadays has a bad word. More to the point, it marked the domestication of the image of Socrates himself.

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Even in the Enlightenment, when one might have expected a uniformly receptive audience for Socrates, Voltaire and Rousseau were divided on his legacy — the former regarding Socrates much more favourably than the latter. This is supposed to show that, far from indulging in academic navel-gazing, philosophers have been both receptive and contributory to the work of other disciplines.

Such is the Neo-Kantian settlement in action. They too engaged in revolutionary thought of at least equal philosophical import, but their effects have been distributed more widely, both within and without the academy. Their philosophical projects of — respectively — pragmatism, phenomenology and vitalism remain part of the cultural landscape today, even if not housed specifically in philosophy departments. To be sure, Bertrand Russell was certainly someone who did not merely do philosophy well but also lived a philosophical life.

Russell was comfortable making the same argument in the public square as in the seminar room.

In this respect, Russell was very much like the academically unexpurgated Socrates. Academic philosophers take too much pride in being able to discuss matters in seminar rooms that would cause riots if taken seriously in public. They regard the public very much as Plato did — namely, as mentally unprepared to think deeply and broadly about matters of existential import. Categories: Comments.

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Derek Bowman. You know, someone to turn their proverbial chair backwards, and just talk with the people about what it is philosophers talk about. But of course this sampling bias cuts both ways in the present analysis. But you should notice that Frodeman and Briggle are as guilty of this as anyone. Nor would he be likely to accept such an invitation.

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Soames does mention an number of other sciences, both natural and social, to which analytic philosophy contributed. For instance, he mentions theoretical physics. Some fairly far out quasi-philosophical positions equally contributed. De Broglie praised Bergson.

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Pauli was in analysis and was co-author with Carl Jung. Bohr made use of both Kierkegaard and William James in his thinking about quantum jumps and complementarity. Pascual Jordan referenced parapsychological precognition in his quantum electrodynamics.

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Significantly, in biology, Soames references no analytic philosophers despite numerous ones available , showing his total ignorance and avoidance of this area, something he shares with his heroes Russell and Wittgenstein. In my comment I let Soames off too easy in his including Goedel among analytic philosophers. Even in philosophy of logic, his views were not typical of Anglo-American or logical positivist approaches. He believed we had clear intuitions of higher order infinite sets.

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An undergraduate student in philosophy writes in with a question that I suspect many philosophers confronted at some point in their studies. Perhaps we can provide some assistance:. I am a philosophy student in my last year of undergrad studies in need of some advice. I am about to apply to graduate studies in philosophy but not sure what I should choose to focus and research on. I know few people generally tend to read academic philosophy, and even less likely to pick up a paper on, say, mereological universalism.

Should I go for what I find most amusing now the metaphysics-y stuff and risk ending up as a philosopher whose work none except my students and colleagues are interested it or can appreciate; or should I follow the more practical philosophy route and aim to have a broader impact and take up more current issues something a-la Peter Singer who is about the only philosopher any of my non-philosophy friends have heard about.

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